Hyundai Motor Group announced on July 7 that it will join the RE100 initiative⸺a global initiative committed to moving towards 100% renewable energy. Hyundai aims to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.
We welcome the move of Hyundai to declare 100% renewable, however, with the climate crisis right at our doorstep, Hyundai should speed up the transition and catch up with the global corporate trend to go renewable in less than 10 years. It should also include carbon-intensive affiliates such as Hyundai Steel and declare to immediately phase out internal combustion engines, which contribute to the largest source of carbon emissions⸺automobiles at Hyundai Motor Company.
According to the recommendation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced to net-zero by 2050 so that we can keep the increase in global average temperature within 1.5 °C. To achieve this goal, the target year is 2028 on average among corporates that joined RE100⸺23 years ahead of Hyundai Motor Group’s aimed target.
The absence of affiliates that consume a lot of electricity, such as Hyundai Steel, also clearly shows that this announcement is missing the point. In order to achieve RE100, Hyundai Motor Group has to come up with specific renewable energy expansion and carbon reduction measures, meanwhile, consider how to contribute to the domestic renewable energy transition in South Korea at the group level.
Another major disappointment of Hyundai’s declaration is that it fails to mention when to stop selling internal combustion engines. The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions at Hyundai Motor Company is automobiles⸺its primary product. According to the 2020 Hyundai Motor Company’s Sustainability Report, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are 93,881,255 tons (tCO2eq) including all direct and indirect emissions, and 80% of the emission is from internal combustion engines they sell.
The World Energy Agency (IEA), known for its conservative analysis, recommended that the sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines should stop by 2035 to combat the climate crisis. Hyundai and Kia must stop selling internal combustion engine vehicles such as diesel, gasoline, and hybrid vehicles and become a company focused on electric vehicles and mobility services.
Currently, Hyundai only plans to stop selling internal combustion engine vehicles in Europe, China, and the US by 2040. It is a shame as a global automobile company that there are no specific plans for South Korea and Southeast Asia, an emerging market. If Hyundai wants to contribute to the zero-carbon era and survive in global competition, it must declare when to stop selling internal combustion engine vehicles and fast forward the transition to electric vehicles.